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Opinion: Burnaby’s biggest school has flattened COVID-19. Hoping it lasts

No new cases so far in 2021

OK, I hope I’m not jinxing things by writing this blog.

But I felt I owed it to Burnaby North Secondary School, where I graduated from waaaaaaaay back in 1986. Last year, I wrote a blog about feeling sad because BNSS was racking up a big pile of COVID-19 cases – more than any other Burnaby school.

I wasn’t placing blame, of course, just feeling bad for all of the parents, students, teachers and staff who had to keep dealing with all of the notices being sent home.

But guess what? Things seem to be going really well at my former school. I watch the Fraser Health case tracker pretty closely and haven’t seen a single exposure notice for the city’s biggest high school since the winter break ended at the start of 2021.

I hope I didn’t miss one. Maybe it’s blind luck that there haven’t been any exposures at the school - all I know is that the news makes me happy.

Like I said, I hope I haven’t jinxed things.

Meanwhile, multiple COVID-19 exposures are piling up at some other Burnaby schools, according to Fraser Health’s latest list.

Four high schools are on the list. They are:

  • Byrne Creek secondary: Jan. 29, Feb. 3, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 12
  • Cariboo Hill secondary: Feb. 2, 3, 4 and 5
  • Alpha secondary: Feb. 9, 10 and 11
  • Burnaby South: Feb. 12

The latest list includes multiple elementary schools, according to those posted on the Fraser Health coronavirus tracker site. (Other cases may have been identified at Burnaby schools with parents notified, but there is sometimes a lag before they reach the Fraser Health site.)

  • Aubrey: Feb. 8
  • Douglas Road: Feb. 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12
  • Seaforth: Feb. 5, 8, 9 and 10
  • Stride Avenue: Feb. 5
  • 12th Avenue: Feb. 5, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12

The case tracker also lists Burnaby Winter Club Hockey 2 Team as having exposures on Feb. 3, 4 and 6. People who work at or visit the Burnaby Winter Club are being warned about a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 visiting the facility on five separate dates earlier this month.

A copy of a letter from Fraser Health to users of the club, located on Canada Way, was sent to the NOW.

In it, people are warned about “possible contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 at Burnaby Winter Club.”

The dates of the visit are Feb 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, said the letter.

“This letter is to notify you that people might have been exposed to COVID-19 while at Burnaby Winter Club,” the letter says. “We have confirmed that multiple people have COVID-19. This virus is spread between people by droplets. This means you need to be close enough to be exposed to saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of the infected person.”

Fraser Health is now trying to track down anyone who might have been exposed to the person with COVID-19 who visited the club.

The latest school cases come as stricter measures on masks in schools were announced recently.

The only exceptions are when sitting or standing at their seat or workstation in a classroom, where there is a barrier in place, or while they are eating or drinking.

Previously, masks were only required for these groups in high-traffic areas, like hallways and outside of classrooms or in learning groups when they could not safely distance from others.

Now staff and students will have to wear a mask when they walk around a classroom or go in and out the classroom door, as well as in other places where people congregate.

Exceptions will be made for people who do not tolerate masks for behavioural or health reasons, and even with masks, physical distancing is still required.

For elementary students, wearing masks indoors remains a personal choice. However, the new policy removes the words “not recommended” and replaces them with “not required,” to “make it a little easier to have the mask encouragement where elementary schools feel they want to have it.”

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.